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Number 13: Spring 2018


Barry Watt

Running such an ambitious series of events on such pressing and contested contemporary issues arising in the wake of the trans movement’s ascent to public awareness, seemed especially fitting in 2017, as that was a very special year for us at the Site, celebrating as we were our twentieth anniversary. Founded in 1997 to foster a critical and creative training and champion engaging clinical and theoretical work venturing beyond the mainstream psychoanalytic movement, the Site has found itself, two decades later, in a position of going from strength to strength. Our membership and trainings have continued to grow and, if we remain at the cutting edge of questioning the clinical encounter, problematizing disciplinary boundaries and subverting the narcissism of theoretical differences, the reasons for this might be because we continue to resist being bound by the weight of institutionalism, fettered by slavish transferences to proper names or united in the fight for sectarian causes. This opens up a space for confronting what is genuinely new and emergent within the contemporary clinical encounter. Such an encounter, in turn, demands the relentless renewal of thinking and practising ‘otherwise.’ As evidenced by the many events and presentations that contributed to make up the conference fortnight, while we as individuals might disagree – and disagree profoundly with one another – we continue to get on with our work in the spaces between other people’s -isms and schisms. 

If we continue to thrive, then the conference seemed to indicate that this was for a very simple reason. Above all else, the conference attested to the fact that we at the Site are foremost a community, a clinical community, committed to the twofold project of interrogating what it is that we do when we do psychoanalysis and seeking ever better collective clinical responses to the enormous pool of emotional distress the world confronts us with. The 2017 conference then served as more than a new initiative, because it was also a recollection – without implying a previous forgetting – of our Site roots. These roots, grounded in a dismantling of the normative and normalizing, a rejection of spurious binaries, a confrontation with essentialising strategies and a fierce resistance to the exclusion and pathologization of oppressed identities, were the common ground that brought us at The Site into a long overdue conversation with the trans and genderqueer communities. These are communities, it should be remembered, that majoritarian psychoanalysis – no less than popular opinion – had too often regarded with a misunderstanding born of a suspicion shrouded in lazy preconceptions. Ironically, it was precisely this that enabled us, over the conference fortnight, to get on with doing what we do best at The Site: breaking with mainstream discourse; challenging presuppositions; debating; dissenting; fearlessly thinking otherwise.